Subject: WT Press Summaries 16 - 28 February 2002

West Timor Press Summaries for the end of February.

West Timor Press Summaries

16th February - 28th February 2002

NTT X ? NTT Eks pres; PK ? Pos Kupang; ST ? Surya Timor; RT ? Radar Timor; SP ? Sasando Pos

Saturday, 16 Feb 2002

NTT X:Provincial Military Chief, Col. Moeswarno Moesanip appealed to the international and national non- governmental organisations to help refugees to pay the electricity and water bills after the government stops the assistance early this year. He also called on other East Timorese, especially the elites, whose economic conditions are more favourable to help the needy refugees.

PK: At least 90 families residing in North Central Timor district have expressed their willingness to return home to East Timor following the reconciliatory meeting held last December with 18 chieftains from Oecusse. The 18 chieftains visited refugee camp in Napan and disseminated the latest situation in East Timor which led to the decision to return by these refugees. Contacted recently by Pos Kupang, District Military Chief of TTU, Let. Col, S. Bambang, as the chief of Satlak PBP, conceded the plan of the 90 refugee families to return home.

Monday, 18 February 2002

PK: Deputy Governor, Drs. Johanes Pake Pani informed on Saturday (16 Feb.) that Indonesian Government coordinated with UNTAET is to open Ferry routes from several areas in East Nusa Tenggara to Oecusse and Dili. This is expected to support of mobilisation of people between the two territories and also to facilitate the ongoing repatriation of East Timor refugees.

PK: Deputy District Head of Kupang, Frits Djubida stated on Friday (15 Feb.) that at least 109 refugee families residing in several areas in Kupang district had returned to East Timor during the period of January and February. He stated that efforts to encourage the returning of refugees would be intensified including go and visit activities by community leaders from East Timor to refugees in West Timor.

RT: An East Timorese leader, Claudio de Jesus Lay, lambasted UNTAET for interfering with Indonesian government's internal affairs with its plan to witness the human rights violence tribunal which is soon to take place. He argued by saying that the Indonesian government have never muddled with East Timor's internal affairs and he expected the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor to do the same, not to interfere with the internal affairs of Indonesia. Concerning the human rights violence in East Timor from 1974 to 1999, he purported that it could only be resolved by East Timor without any interference from outsiders. He informed that in the traditional reconciliation process called Biti Bot Timor Lorosae between refugee and East Timorese Leaders, the human rights violence was one of the points of the main agenda and was seriously discussed.

Tuesday, 19 February 2002

PK: Head of Social Bureau of Provincial Administration, Stanis Tefa, S.H stated in his office that during the period of December 2001 to February 2002, 37 people died and 36 others were injured in the various disasters that hit some areas in the province such as flood, landslides and the outbreak of diarrhoea. Natural disasters in various parts of the province have destroyed a number of public infrastructures and houses. Stanis Tefa added that to help the victims of disasters, the government had distributed 70 tonnes of rice to districts in the province and has procured 161 tonnes more for anticipating possible disasters later this year.

PK: Regional Representative of UNHCR in Indonesia, Raymond Hall, informed that UNHCR had facilitated the repatriation of at least 193,000 refugees back to East Timor after the popular consultation in East Timor in 1999 leading to the exodus of people to West Timor. Raymond Hall, accompanied by his Deputy, Robert White visited Kupang, and met with the Governor to bid farewell due to the completion of his duty in Indonesia. However, UNHCR will still be committed to help the return of the refugees, he added. He hoped that the security condition in both territories would remain favourable to encourage more refugees to return. Meanwhile, Udayana Military Chief, Maj. Gen, Willem da Costa, stated that the plan to conduct a big return of refugees in May is cancelled due to the presidential election in East Timor on May 20th.

Wednesday, 20 February 2002

NTT X: Chief of Belu Military Command, Let. Col, Didi Sudiana stated that regular socialisation campaigns will be carried out throughout the camps in Belu. The session is scheduled to take place every Saturday. District authorities (Muspikab) including Deputy Speaker of District Parliament, Blasius Manek attended the first session held last Saturday (18 Feb.) at Haekesak and Turiscain camps. At least 400 refugees attended the session including the camp coordinators such as Abilio de Araoujo and Aroujo.

Saturday, 23 February 2002

PK: A clash between youths of Kelurahan South Kefa and Bansone in Kefa city, North Central Timor District (TTU) broke out on Thursday (21 Feb.). Two youths were reportedly badly injured in the incident. A minivan public transport was vandalized by the mob. The clash paralysed the city for about two hours. Police Chief of TTU, Adj. Snr. Comr, M. Masan Patty confirmed that the security situation had been restored and the Police had also facilitated the peace talk for the two opposing groups.

PK: Bureau head of Social section of provincial administration, Stanis Tefa informed that government spent about Rp. 3 billion to pay the incentives of 12 thousand refugees that had returned to East Timor. Central government had allocated fund amounting to Rp.12 billion for the payment of the refugees' incentives when they would return home, he added.

RT: Spokespersons of Provincial Government, J. Kosapilawan stated that during the period of 27 October 2001 to 18 February 2002, a total of 5, 921 persons or 1, 839 families have returned home. He informed that since the cessation of assistance by the government early this year, coordination meetings on refugees' repatriation had been intensified to improve the ongoing repatriation. At least 23 meetings had been held between Satlak/Satkorlak PBP, and international organisations such as UNHCR and IOM.

Monday, 25 February 2002

PK: Flood and landslides due to heavy rain and strong wind that hit South Central Timor district (TTS) in the third week of February had resulted nearly-collapsed 76 villagers' houses and hundreds hectares of ricefield destroyed. Head of Community Protection Office of TTS, Muhammad Koli Mutadji stated this at his office last Saturday. The disasters hit several sub-districts in TTS including South Amanatun, Central Amanuban, North Amanuban and Batu Putih.

PK: Dili community leader, Agustinho Pinto informed that he had just received a copy of letter dated on 8 February and signed by Adelmo Risi, a UNHCR official in Dili for the plan of go and see visit by government officials and community leaders of Dili district to West Timor areas. The visit is scheduled for 25-27 February 2002. Upon receiving of that letter, Pinto then conducted coordination with Abilio Soares, the former Governor of East Timor, and a number of leaders including, Armindo Soares Marioano, Domingos MD Soares and Eurico Guterres. He added that a meeting among 30 community leaders of Dili is to be held today in Atambua for the preparation of the planned visit.

PK: District Military Chief of South Central Timor District (TTS), Lt. Col. Pieter Lobo stated last week that since December 2001, Military had facilitated the voluntary returning of 716 refugees/193 families back to East Timor. As of today, it is estimated that around 2000 refugees are still residing in TTS.

RT: Refugees who are residing at camps in Belu areas are suffering more in the rainy season this year. As witnessed by Antara on Saturday at a number of camps in Belu, refugees staying at lower ground had to move to other areas around the camp, as their places were inundated or muddy. Sub-district Military Chief of Koramil 1605-01, 1rst Lt, M. Jusuf acknowledged that the military members helped evacuating the refugees at dawn last Friday (22 Feb.).

Cendana Pos: Independence leader of East Timor, Jose Alexandre Gusmao officially stated on Saturday (23 Feb.) in Dili that he would run for presidency in the forthcoming election. The long awaited statement was made just a few hours before the deadline of the registration for the candidates. Xanana's contender for presidency would be Francisco Xavier do Amaral who was elected president of East Timor when Portuguese overnment left East Timor in 1975.

Tuesday, 26 February 2002

RT: Lt. Col, Pieter Lobo is optimistic that by early May, all refugee camps in the district can be dismantled. Lobo, who is also the Chief of Satlak PBP confirmed that more refugees are to return to East Timor. Satlak PBP is still disseminating information encouraging the refugees to make decision whether to return or be relocated to other areas. It is predicted that out of 2000, about 300 families will opt to be involved in the transmigration program. He reported that on 15 February 2002, 31 families/52 persons were facilitated to return to East Timor.

PK: In a speech read by the Staff Chief of Provincial Military in the anniversary of 161/ Wirasakti Provincial Military Base in Kupang yesterday, Udayana Military Chief, Maj. Gen, Willem da Costa stated that the priority for the Wirasakti Military Command to focus is the border security, which is considered vulnerable to various crimes and tensions. Maj. Gen, da Costa stated further that although the security situation in West Timor is relatively favourable but the situation is still vulnerable due to the problem of East Timor refugees that is yet to be resolved.

Wednesday, 27 February 2002

NTT X: The Commission of Truth Acceptance and Reconciliation of East Timor is an independent commission whose task is to find the truth regardless of whoever involved in the case including, if necessary, to investigate Xanana Gusmao, should he be alleged in any violence against humanitarian. This was asserted by Chief of the Commission in a press briefing at Kriastal Hotel on Tuesday answering the questions whether the commission would be able to investigate independence prominent leaders such as Xanana Gusmao, Taur Matan Ruak, Ramos Horta and other elites.

RT: Three refugee leaders from Ainaro, Dejito das Neves, Dominggus Alves and Ermenio de Carvalho accompanied by former Sector C Commander of Pro-Integration Fighters, of Cancio Lopez de Carvalho, came to Radar Timor, last weekend, revealing that the Udayana Military Chief, Maj. Gen, Willem da Costa had broken his promise to give them bonus amounting to Rp. 20 million and if they managed to repatriate the refugees back home. They regretted the claim made by Military Chief that the returning of a big number of refugees before was because of the success of the Military under his command.

Thursday, 28 February 2002

RT: Tens of refugees residing in Naibonat and Tuapukan camps came to the Provincial Government office yesterday protesting against the cessation of assistance to the refugees. They threatened, should there be any refugee die of hunger, they would bring the dead body to the government office. The Governor was not able to meet the refugees and they were received by Social Bureau Head, Stanis Tefa and Social Department Head, Dr. Husein Pancratius. The refugees demanded the government to continue the assistance of side-dish money and food. They also questioned about the plan to dismantle the camps as of May this year. Military and Police were seen guarding the office premises when the refugees came to the office.

PK: Bishop of Alaska, Mgr. Roger Schmitz, accompanied by the Head of Operational of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Marry Haden made visits to camps in Kupang. Arch Bishop, Schmitz also met with the Governor of East Nusa Tenggara, to whom he expressed his concerns of the refugees' living at camps. He also admired the kindness of the people in West Timor to host the refugees.

NTT X: A refugee leader, Salestino Pinto told Antara on Wednesday (27 Feb.) over the past two weeks some refugees have started to run out of food and rely on wild cassava found near the camps. Concerning the repatriation, Pinto, who is a former commander of Aitarak, stated that he would want to return to East Timor if all the East Timor elites and leaders residing in West Timor decide to return and be ready to face any consequences. He stated further that if there is a communal agreement to return altogether as how they came here to West Timor, he was sure that all the East Timorese would return later. He also stated that he is willing to join the settlement program as long as the government would provide the refugees with farming lands and the tools and then give assistance for the first few months while the refugees start working on their lands.

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